HAMILTON: Captain Misbahul Haq and Asad Sahfiq ground out an unbroken 128-run partnership to resurrect Pakistan's first innings and guide them to 235 for four at the close of play of the second day of the first test against New Zealand on Saturday.
Misbah built a slow and watchful 50 off 129 balls, while the 24-year-old Shafiq was on 74, his highest test score after he made 61 on debut against South Africa last November, to put Pakistan in a strong position heading into day three.
New Zealand, courtesy of a sustained period of pressure from Daniel Vettori and Tim Southee, had captured three wickets in the middle session to leave Pakistan struggling at 107 for four at a sun-drenched Seddon Park.
Misbah and Shafiq, however mindful another wicket would expose the lower order to a fired-up New Zealand bowling attack, wore down the tiring New Zealanders, patiently waiting until they got a bad ball to hit.
"Misbah and Asad both played brilliantly and because of that we are in the driving seat right now," said opener Taufeeq Umar, who scored a quick-fire 54. "Our first target is above 275 and then let's see.
"If Misbah and Asad keep playing like this we are looking for about a 100-run lead."
The hosts, who were bowled out for 275 early on Saturday, initially failed to capitalise on a perfect start when Mohammad Hafeez was caught low down by Tim McIntosh at second slip off Chris Martin in the first over of Pakistan's innings.
The bowlers, however, were subsequently too loose, surrendering too many boundaries as Pakistan romped to 67 for one by lunch with Taufeeq on a breezy 42 not out.
However, after the lunch break the New Zealand bowlers tightened up to snare Taufeeq, Azhar Ali (24) and the valuable wicket of Younus Khan for a quickfire 23 from 24 balls.
"Bear in mind there are plans there, the ball was tailing in a wee bit and we were trying to get them to work the straight ones and trying to get an lbw," pace bowler Brent Arnel said.
"Sometimes your plans can backfire in cricket and it looks like you have bowled a bad ball and they get away with it, but sometimes it can create a great reward for us."
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ